Saturday, August 07, 2010

Update: Lemonade Stands Get Reprieve

"Multnomah County's top elected official apologized Thursday for health inspectors who forced a 7-year-old girl to shut down her stand last week because she didn't have a food-safety permit."

HT: Ron H.

49 Comments:

At 8/07/2010 8:44 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

That's great. Now you can officially get the "tourista experience" in Oregon that you used to have to travel to Mexico or other developing countries to get. With our immigration policy, you can even have it served by an illegal alien instead of a cutie pie little girl at a roadside stand--we can't discriminate can we?

All kidding aside, the lemonade made with bottled water is probably fine just like in Mexico. It's the tap water ice cubes and container sterilization that are usually the problem. We have to sanitize our water piping two or three times before it will pass the county water test after we open a water distribution system. But, as the saying goes, “let the buyer beware.”

 
At 8/07/2010 8:53 AM, Blogger Marko said...

Such are the vagaries of a 'benevolent' dictatorship.

 
At 8/07/2010 12:12 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

your framing of the question underlines precisely why i disagree with you.

you seem to feel it it the governement's job to prevent me from doing "risky" things as opposed to my job to make decision about what i think is a good idea.

all life is risk. crossing the street is risky. the question is: who decides what risks i am allowed to take?

any reasonable person looking at a little girl's lemonade stand is going to assume she hasn't got a permit. to my mind, it's then up to them to decide what they want to do. you seem, rather, to prefer that the government decide what is and isn't risky (and charge to do it) and then tell me that i cannot buy lemonade from her. why would i want them to do that?

voluntary certification programs (like a good housekeeping seal) are fine, but such programs of 100% licensure always run afoul of common sense, as in this case.

ice cubes? really? what, like the people in the neighborhood don't make their own tapwater ice? do you sterilize your own cups?

and ooh, let's tie in the total non sequitor of immigration. what's the point of that? she's a US citizen born and raised. illegal immigrants are already illegal. they are already banned from commerce. you sound like you are proposing preventing everyone from engaging in commerce to stop a few lawbreakers.

by that logic, we should all be banned from trading stocks because a few guys insider trade or we ought to ban all landscaping companies because a few are run by illegals.

 
At 8/07/2010 1:06 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"We have to sanitize our water piping two or three times before it will pass the county water test after we open a water distribution system"...

Who's responsible for the water system Walt G?

 
At 8/07/2010 1:27 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

I admit I am jaded. You get that way when you see a guy cut in half in a piece of equipment because he was a nice guy and his boss was a nice guy who did not want to say anything to the experienced worker about working unsafely. The job had been done thousands of times before like this, but this time . . . . Risk increases with repetition. Someone has to be that one-in-ten-thousand. Polices and strict adherence to them might cut that risk to one-in-twenty-thousand. Is that good? It depends if you are that one guy who did not get hurt or die. You probably would not even be aware you owed your life to someone doing their job to make you safer.

Professionals do their job and don't worry about making people happy or re-elected. If the licensed sanitarians did not see the violation at the commercial street fair, nothing would have happened (this was not a lemonade stand in front of her house). As it was, they committed a breach of duty and were liable for negligence. If they wanted to make the 7-year-old girl happy, they should have been a clown and joined the circus.

Yeah, ice cubes. I figure that’s what my four days in a hospital after a trip to Mexico was from. I knew better and did it anyhow. We are spoiled with our drinking water quality and sanitary sewer system in the U.S. Do you suppose that happens from an act of God?

There is a fine line between cutting corners and being reasonable, so I will continue to be a prudent prick at times. I guess we can agree to disagree, but if you send you son or daughter to work here, you can bet I will do my best to protect him or her.

 
At 8/07/2010 1:34 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Juandos,

In Michigan, drinking water safety is usually a city or county responsibilty although the property owner pays to meet the compliance and testing. I think the city of Detroit does their own (they want the revenue). Water treatment plants are often thought to be one of the next terrorist targets.

 
At 8/07/2010 1:46 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

despite your anecdotes, what does any of that have to do with a lemonade stand in portland? any seasoned traveler knows not to put ice in a drink in mexico and not to drink the water. guess you learned the hard way.

but what does that have to do with portland? their water is fine. i've been there many times and drunk from many taps. you think she's importing ice from mexico? it's the same water all her neighbors drink from their own taps anyway. it's the same water served by the glass in all the restaurants.

this is exactly what i mean about these 100% rules always running afoul of common sense.

regarding the industrial accident, pardon my presumption based upon such scant facts, but it sounds like it was precisely, unequivocally their fault. the worker took chances and the boss failed to call him on it. both knew they were doing it from what you describe. laws wouldn't change that. people still speed. they still run saws with the guard up. that's life.

you and all the other nanny staters like you take one egregious bad outcome and use it to ban an entire practice, like if only we had enough rules, nothing bad would ever happen. that's as impossible as it is impractical.

doubtless, somewhere in the US, numerous people will slip in the shower, hit their head and be badly hurt or die. shall we mandate shower helmets? maybe ban stand up showers that lack a safety harness? it would certainly save injuries.

i'll bet it would save more injuries than banning children's lemonade stands.

 
At 8/07/2010 2:05 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

Professionals should do the job they are getting paid to do in Portland. If they get paid to inspect showers, they should do that. You did notice it was an elected official who apologized. I wonder if you can pay off the sanitarians to look the other way if you own a restaurant.

If they eliminate the law and the job, that's cool, too. A lot of countries want to be like our nanny state though.

 
At 8/07/2010 3:47 PM, Blogger Cabodog said...

I was shocked to learn that certain counties in Montana have no building permit process. No permits, no fees, no inspections and, amazingly, no need for highly-paid inspectors and their pensions.

Last I knew, I hadn't heard of buildings collapsing in Montana.

Friend of mine who builds there just said that most of his clients hire an inspector/consultant to ensure things look right. Much cheaper solution and, amazingly, allows the private sector to be the most efficient.

Same argument can be made regarding health inspections: let the owners and their insurance companies figure it out.

 
At 8/07/2010 4:04 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"In Michigan, drinking water safety is usually a city or county responsibilty although the property owner pays to meet the compliance and testing"...

Hmmm, interesting about the property owner having to test water...

Are the pipes that old or whatever that the need for testing is that necessary or is there a 'fee' extortion angle in there somewhere or can one get a kit and do themselves?

Here in Missouri both the city and county seem to be pretty much like where you're at...

"You probably would not even be aware you owed your life to someone doing their job to make you safer"....

Well one would think adults would look after their own safety instead of having to depend on a 'babysitter'...

In 35 years of working the airlines I've seen my share of accidents and then a few...

In each and every case it was 'operator error'...

Then again an airport isn't exactly a factory setting either...

 
At 8/07/2010 4:26 PM, Blogger A Conservative Teacher said...

Reprieve is different than amnesty... if she was an illegal immigrant, she would have been granted that, but as she is a working citizen, she has only been briefly been granted the right to work and gain an income, which will later be taken from her when she is forced to buy expensive government permits to conduct business. If only America was a free country where everyone had the right to life, liberty, and property!

 
At 8/07/2010 4:50 PM, Blogger Marko said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/08/2010 12:03 AM, Blogger bobble said...

morganovich:"voluntary certification programs (like a good housekeeping seal) are fine"

yeah, those programs sound good. but what tends to happen is that the certification company gets its revenue from the establishments being certified. thus, adverse reports are discouraged because they reduce income to the certification company. sort of like the bond rating agencies and MBS/CDO ratings.

i realize that anecdotes like the lemonade stand spike the adrenalin on this site. nonetheless, i think food/restaurant inspection is a valid government function. let the city hire a private contractor if it makes you feel better.

 
At 8/08/2010 4:01 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Those government officials who shut down the lemonade stand should be fired, and their budget reduced, because there's too much regulation.

I don't know where the mass hysteria came from. However, when I hear people say saving a wild pelican (during the oil spill) is worth $1,000 to $10,000, I just can't imagine them actually writing a check for $1,000 or more to save one pelican. Yet, in reality, everyone is spending too much money on excessive regulations.

 
At 8/08/2010 7:03 AM, Blogger Richard said...

Mark,

It doesn't matter. The government only apologized because it caused such a stir. Because FOX put it on the news.

There are untold other such stories, not as 'news worthy' that did not end up in an apology, but put the individual out of business, taxed him, fined him or even put him in jail.

We lose, they win. You can't fight this. I give up.

 
At 8/08/2010 10:20 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Jundos,

A lot of activity goes on behind the scenes that people take for granted. In the U.S., we can assume that when we go up to a drinking fountain and get a drink of water, we will not die: We are spoiled here. Drinking water safety is happening because the local health department professionals are doing their jobs instead of worrying about getting vilified in the press for picking on cute 7-year-old girls. It's a shame when you get in more trouble for doing your job than you would have for going to a strip club on the county dime instead of inspecting the local street fair.

Sure, we can eliminate the watch-dog role of the government and hope someone else takes it over. We aren't there now, so we have to hope those we pay through our taxes to safeguard us do their jobs even if it isn't pretty or all warm and fuzzy feeling. They can maintain whatever friendships they have left after work. Yeah, it can be a dirty job.

Water testing is commonly done on residential new installs and wells. It's sometimes included in the plumbing license fee. Commercial and industrial water testing is usually done when their licenses are renewed, and that can vary by jurisdiction. Testing for temporary licenses (like the seven year-old's street fair) is done on an as-needed basis. The next time you take a drink of water, try to imagine that a seven-year-old was in charge of determining how safe that water must be for you to drink it.

Operator error has to be dealt with, too. You don't just leave it at the person caused their own death so they deserved it, or that nothing can be done because it will still happen anyway. Someone has to pull the two body halves out of the machine, shovel up the guts, hose down the blood, and explain to the survivor’s family and friends what happened. You have to do everything you can to lower the risk of that happening next time.

In the name of less government, do we really want lower ourselves to Third World living conditions? I know how Juandos would probably answer that question ("nanny state"). How about the rest of you?

 
At 8/08/2010 10:25 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

walt-

you are conflating 2 arguments. saying that "he ought to do his job" says absolutely nothing about whether 1. his job should exist at all and 2. whether the government or individuals ought to be the ones making choices about from whom to buy lemonade/who should be allowed to sell it.

any system is prone to abuse. i'm sure you can pay off professors to give you a medical degree too if you try hard enough. arguing that because it's possible to subvert something therefore it ought not exist is making the perfect the enemy of the good.

bobble-

bond rating is a bit of a special case (particularly is so prone to subjective slant). i don't seem to recall any scandals around the good housekeeping seal of approval, ISO 9000, energy star, or any of dozens of other voluntary standards. most of these are based on observable facts, not future projections.

i don't think S+P and moody's are a relevant comparison to something like ISO 9000 or a sanitation standard, particularly as use of the rating agencies is not voluntary, but rather mandated by law. this takes the pressure of needing to provide a useful service out of the equation. if a movie reviewer is consistently wrong, you stop reading him, just as you ignore a weatherman who is always off. but with moody and S+P, you have to buy it anyway, not matter how useless it is. sophisticated bond investors have ignored these ratings for ages. many issuers would rather not bother getting rated. it is the fact that they are REQUIRED that keeps the rating agencies from getting better.

if you are forced to use an agency no matter how bad they are, they inevitably turn into the IRS or the DMV. because their use is mandatory, the ratings guys are not forced to provide a value proposition for what they do. a voluntary certification like ISO 9000 is. the incremental benefit from taking a bribe to certify is outweighed by the damage such a thing would do the the brand if it came to light. this enforced discipline. if the michelin guide started selling stars to crappy restaurants, we'd stop using it.

as i said above, i'm sure you could, if you tried hard enough, subvert virtually anything, but frankly, in the case of a sanitation standard, it's likely cheaper in most cases just to comply than to pay off inspectors, particularly if they need to maintain a brand.

that's the strong argument for taking such rating/certification powers away from government agencies. a private business like zagat or ISO will go to great lengths to ensure the quality of their brand. their entire business depends on it. government agencies and government mandate eliminate that discipline and result in lower standards as a result.

 
At 8/08/2010 10:39 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Walt G...

"Sure, we can eliminate the watch-dog role of the government and hope someone else takes it over. We aren't there now, so we have to hope those we pay through our taxes to safeguard us do their jobs even if it isn't pretty or all warm and fuzzy feeling"...

Maybe we're at cross purposes here Walt G, its not the federal government's job to deal with local safety issues whether its mining, factory work, or anything else...

People in Montanna for instance shouldn't have to have more tax dollars extorted from them to cover the costs of federal safety inspectors in W. Virgina or wherever...

You shouldn't have to pay more tax dollars so that the very useless outfit, the EPA checks on well water in Jefferson county Missouri...

"You don't just leave it at the person caused their own death so they deserved it, or that nothing can be done because it will still happen anyway"...

No Darwinism in action for you, eh?

Just kidding but mind you I'm not advocating for a lack of safety inspections or the inspectors, just that they shouldn't be funded by federal tax dollars, that's what the states, counties, cities, and the businesses are for...

Local problems (safety on the job site can definitely be a problem) need local solutions and not the one size fits all the federal government tries to impose...

 
At 8/08/2010 11:15 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

The problem is everyone wants government services, but they don't want to pay for them.

I guess, most people expect someone else to pay the bills.

If everyone had to pay their equal share, they either couldn't or wouldn't want to.

From 2006 article (no longer on web):

"GDP, total output, of the U.S.A. is $12.6 trillion, which divided by 300 million, yields a per-capita GDP of $42,000.

The cost of regulations in the U.S. is about $1.2 trillion, or $4,000 per person. The government burden, taxes plus regulation, is thus over $16,000 per person."

Since 2006, there are more regulations, including major regulations, e.g. financial reform, CAFE standards, health care reforms, "green" energy reforms, etc.

 
At 8/08/2010 11:21 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich and Juandos,

I agree with much of what you guys are saying. I am discussing the current situation that has a face on it (that has been spinned). The licensed sanitarians have a job to do, so they should do it as should all the others we are currently paying. I applaud them for doing more rather than less. Their knowledge can make us unknowingly safer, and it lets us get on with life and not worry about bad water, bad food, and such things as that.

Should those jobs exist or even be government jobs? Well, as you say, that's another matter. I suppose we could let localities assume the roles, contract out our risk to private companies, or assume it ourselves for police, fire, health or anything else.

Juandos, I would like to think I can drink the water in Michigan and Missouri when I visit your fine state as I often do or maybe when I eventually visit Montana. As far as what the Constitution allows and states, personally I am a big believer of the Second Amendment and the rights I think we have under it (CCW), but I will not go off on that tangent here. I can annoy my friends on the self-defense and gun blogs I visit about that :)

 
At 8/08/2010 11:27 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Also, I may add, U.S. GDP in 2010 is not much higher than 2006 (particularly, given population growth). Regulations have gone way up, and taxes will soon follow.

 
At 8/08/2010 3:24 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

cabodog,

This is completely unscientific I admit, but I did a Google search and found 6,480 hits for "Montana building permit" and 40,300 hits when substituting my home state of Michigan for Montana. I would hazard a guess the lack of building permits in certain counties in Montana that you mentioned is more a matter of lack of buildings or people than a desire to remove bureaucracy.

With a population difference of about 10 to 1, and many fewer cities and governmental jurisdictions, I would have expected the Google search number to be much lower in Montana than it was (source: U.S. Census Bureau 2009 population estimates; Montana 974,989, Michigan 9,969,727)

 
At 8/08/2010 4:25 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I am discussing the current situation that has a face on it (that has been spinned). The licensed sanitarians have a job to do, so they should do it as should all the others we are currently paying."

"Sure, we can eliminate the watch-dog role of the government and hope someone else takes it over."

Speaking of spin, Walt G., I believe you are mischaracterizing your own arguments. I haven't noticed many comments on either 'Lemonade Stand' thread suggesting that paid inspectors shouldn't do their jobs. Should they have some discretion? Maybe.

What I DO see is a great deal of discussion about whether such jobs, and the regulations that require them, should even exist.

Your arguments all along have been that, yes indeed they do need to exist, the more the merrier, and that without government oversight we couldn't safely eat at any restaurant, and without all these rules we would sink to third world conditions.

This last is a specious argument. Unsafe water and lack of adequate sanitation in poor third world countries don't result from lack of government oversight, but from lack of resources. They can't afford it.

Can you imagine a government inspector telling some poor woman she can no longer carry buckets of water 2 miles from the river because it might not be safe to drink?

Your advocacy for government regulation and oversight implies that people don't know how to properly protect their own self interest.

If a restaurant operator, carelessly harms their customers, they will soon be out of business, and will be sued for damages. No number of regulations or inspections can police the industry better than that.

 
At 8/08/2010 5:52 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Ron H.,

If I asked for more legislation in my posts, I did not mean to, and I apologize. I would like most of what we have already to work much better.

The idea is to not have people get harmed in restaurants in the first place. Free markets have failures that can cause sick and dead bodies. A lot of things cannot be cost justified to a profitable business but are nevertheless crucial to a quality life.

Again, we can agree to disagree. I get to see the dead bodies and attribute less of them to mandated safety rules which at the current time are made by the government. I am glad to live in a country where drinking water is safe, and when the light on my side of the traffic signal is green the other side is almost always red. We take that for granted. Under current operating conditions, I am going to say governmental agencies provide at least oversight for both of those and a lot more, too.

None of this is meant to say other ways to do some of these things cannot exist in the future. And maybe we do need to get rid of some of the stupid stuff. Just make sure what you are giving up is actually worth it. Less is not always more.

We have been using the Internet as a discussion tool here. Do you suppose anyone would have seen enough profit potential to develop it if the government had not supplied the money?

You discussion of the spin does not mention both post titles or the pictures. Take the picture of an old wino and put him in a street fair with a thousand people and see if you get the same reaction and outrage from being denied to sell the same lemonade using the same inspection laws.

 
At 8/08/2010 6:04 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

I hope this means we can legalize wide-open sidewalk vending in America.
Imagine if the Supreme Court would find that the right to the "pursuit of happiness" included the right to sell goods from push-carts in public spaces.
Right now, it looks like I will have a federalized right to handguns, maybe automatic weapons, possibly RPGs, but I can't try my hand at food services through a push cart. No federalized right to that productive and cost-lowering enterprise.
Except maybe in Portland for a while.
Which just goes to show--it may be a local pettifogger, or a federal Supreme Court, that strips you of your rights.

 
At 8/08/2010 8:22 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"As far as what the Constitution allows and states, personally I am a big believer of the Second Amendment and the rights I think we have under it (CCW), but I will not go off on that tangent here"...

Well Walt G I wasn't swerving into the 2nd amendment, I was thinking more along the lines of the Article 1, Section 8 part myself...

"Sure, we can eliminate the watch-dog role of the government and hope someone else takes it over"...

Well Walt G, government does a very poor job of playing the watchdog and local, county, state, and national governments have a long and consistent track record of doing a poor job regardless of which part of the country you're thinking about...

Here's another lovely example of how a city that has garnered tens of millions of extorted tax dollars both state and federal and still can't get their act together:

East St. Louis to lay off police, fire fighters...

 
At 8/08/2010 8:45 PM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

Walt, there are also unintended consequences to regulated markets, including deaths.

We can't really say government helped build a better internet than the free market (Microsoft at one time wanted to replace the internet).

A 7-year old girl has few ways to earn some income compared to the opportunities an "old wino" had.

CAFE regulations stopped tens of thousands of Americans from pursuing happiness:

"The primary unintended consequence of CAFE regulation has been its negative impact on occupant safety. The effect of ever-increasing fuel economy standards has been an accelerated trend towards smaller vehicles (faster than the market would have trended if left alone).

A 1999 USA Today analysis estimated that from 1975 to 1999, approximately 46,000 people died in crashes they would otherwise have survived had they been driving larger vehicles."

 
At 8/08/2010 9:20 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Yet another example of federal oversight (watchdog?) causing more problems than necessary due to both pure incompetence and bent political aspirations by clueless clowns:

The Impact of the Senseless Gulf Drilling Ban: a $4B Economic Hit, Tens of Thousands of Lost Jobs and More Gold-Plated Ferraris for the Sheikhs

(thanks to Doug Ross)

 
At 8/09/2010 1:39 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Here's another lovely example of how a city that has garnered tens of millions of extorted tax dollars both state and federal and still can't get their act together:

East St. Louis to lay off police, fire fighters...
"

juandos, I believe these layoffs are malicious acts on the part of politicians. When budget cuts are necessary they cause as much pain as possible, to encourage us to cough up more tax money.

The most important public employees - police, firefighters, & teachers - are always the 1st to go.

We are seldom threatened with the loss of administrative bureaucrats such as tax assessors, and probably the very last to go are health inspectors. :-)

 
At 8/09/2010 6:17 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Juandos,

Yes, the feds might do a poor job, but oftentimes that is the only hammer you have to force compliance to solve a serious problem. I can talk until I am blue in the face to get something done; however, if I can cite a section number of a code or regulation in an email, it is done the next day.

Do you seriously believe business will absorb cost that does not benefit them on the books? A lot of things that contribute to our quality of life don’t. The free market does not always work. I don't want to count dead bodies in front of a restaurant to know if it is safe to eat there.

As an aside, I am the guy who gets the “water tastes funny complaint” here. I’ve been a pipefitter/plumber since 1977. We have four different types of water lines and only one is potable water (safe to drink). If the water fountain is hooked up to the correct water line, most of the tests come back safe to drink but contaminated. Almost all water is contaminated when it contacts the container it is in if you test it. Whether you get sick or not depends on the concentration level of the particulates, and the type of contaminate.

I am a big fan of privatization, and I believe most of the things government does can be done more efficiently in the private sector. But you have to work with the cards you are dealt even if they are shitty ones. You don’t simply turn off the traffic lights or the water treatment plants and then bid the job out to the low bidder without causing complete chaos.

 
At 8/09/2010 6:19 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"We are seldom threatened with the loss of administrative bureaucrats such as tax assessors, and probably the very last to go are health inspectors. :-)"...

Cruel Ron H but funny!

I sometimes wonder if the teachers are worth saving though...

I mean how much pandering to the teachers for instance should the taxpayer (which means less disposable cash for the economy) be on the hook for?

Well actually it might not be about the teachers per se but the way the public education system has devolved into a collection of massive bureaucracies that seems long on politics and short on educational substance...

 
At 8/09/2010 6:40 AM, Blogger juandos said...

O.K. Walt G let me play the devil's advocate here...

"Yes, the feds might do a poor job, but oftentimes that is the only hammer you have to force compliance to solve a serious problem"...

Hmmm, so the use of the 'extortion angle' is the way to go for what some might see as a 'serious problem', eh?

"Do you seriously believe business will absorb cost that does not benefit them on the books?"...

Why should business absorb the costs Walt G?

"The free market does not always work"...

What you're saying here is akin to saying that the laws of physics regarding gravity for instance doesn't always work...

Just not true...

Bad eateries like bad anything else are avoided like the plague by adults who pay attention...

I think John Stossel explains it better than I can: Private Enterprise Does It Better
Why freedom and responsibility triumph over regulation and central planning


"We have four different types of water lines and only one is potable water (safe to drink)"...

Hmmm, this begs the questions of who set these standards for water pipes and what was/is their collective credibility to set such standards?

"But you have to work with the cards you are dealt even if they are shitty ones"...

Actually no one doesn't have to be so accepting and maybe a little chaos will wake folks up to what's not working but still costing folks money...

Just my opinion though Walt G...

 
At 8/09/2010 6:53 AM, Blogger juandos said...

From the WSJ: Why I'm Not Hiring

When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally's pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits.

 
At 8/09/2010 8:12 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I need to be clearer. All that is wet and clear and looks like water to the uninformed is not drinkable. Think swimming pool water. You cannot drink process water (supply and return), cooling tower water, or fire prevention water because they have been chemically treated for other uses. You also can't drink water, even from the drinking water pipe, if the main pipe is too big or if the take-off is at the end of the line. It's easy to hook a hose or coffee pot spigot up to one of these lines and drink it because it looks exactly like water and almost tastes like water.

The free market and physics are not the same. I have never heard the term "gravity failure," but I have heard the term "free market failure."

Business should absorb the cost (and pass it on to the customer). You should be able to go to a store and escape out the fire door in the back if the building catches on fire on the front. Do you know how many of those are chained, locked, or blocked? If the fire inspector does not force the issue, will you go in the back and check? Will the store owner worry about this?

I too believe we have more government than we need. But at the same time, I realize a lot of what we take for granted happens because professionals are protecting you behind the scene without you even knowing about it. Some of those people are even government folks or me :)

You can call it the "extortion angle," but I call it holding them accountable so our people on the floor don't get hurt.

 
At 8/09/2010 8:48 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey Walt G...

"The free market and physics are not the same. I have never heard the term "gravity failure," but I have heard the term "free market failure."...

Well Walt the ONLY time I've heard of 'free market failure' is when it emanates from someone who has no clue what the free market is...

"If the fire inspector does not force the issue, will you go in the back and check? Will the store owner worry about this?"...

Well again thinking adults will make their own choice of whether to shop a place that isn't safe but cheap or safer but a bit more expensive...


"You can call it the "extortion angle," but I call it holding them accountable so our people on the floor don't get hurt"...

Now I not mean to sound insulting here but I can't help but wonder if you're implying that the people on the floor aren't smart enough to figure it out for themselves?

Hey Walt do me a favor when you get the chance and look at this Jeff Perren opinion piece: The GM Volt: Fascism Strikes the Auto Industry

I'm curious to what your take is on it and if you see it as crony capitalism as Peren does?

 
At 8/09/2010 9:34 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Juandos,

Our people on the floor are too busy busting their ass and making parts to pay the bills so guys like me can sit in an air-conditioned office and figure it out. I appreciate their efforts bringing in the money out there in the heat, and I will do my job to make sure they go home with all the body parts they came in with even if they don't know what I do.

Our factory is not unlike a city with 2 million square feet of first-floor space and facilities for 5 thousand people (we only have about 1,300 now). So my role is not much different than the government workers you complain about.

I will take a look at you link and let you know what I think.

 
At 8/09/2010 9:54 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"So my role is not much different than the government workers you complain about"...

Hmmm but you're not a government employee right Walt G?

I've often wondered if private industry doesn't need its own version of Underwriters Laboratories instead of depending on politically driven safety standards issued by people who don't have a clue?

 
At 8/09/2010 10:56 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"I've often wondered if private industry doesn't need its own version of Underwriters Laboratories instead of depending on politically driven safety standards issued by people who don't have a clue?"

We do that now. That's my job: AWWA for water quality, NFPA for fire protection, ANSI for many standards . . . . The feds just refer to the appropriate sections in those standards and make it formally illegal not to comply with them using all the due process protections and appeals all citizens in the U.S. have. You have someone where you live with their nose in those books/Website/CD right now.

 
At 8/09/2010 11:38 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8/09/2010 4:31 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally's pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits."

Thanks for the link, juandos, interesting article.

Consider also that Fleischer only mentions the costs directly connected to Sally. there are also other HR, compliance, and legal costs associated with having employees. As the number of employees goes up, these costs increase also.

 
At 8/10/2010 8:07 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"We do that now"...

No we don't Walt G, the federal government has stepped all over it...

I'm of the opinion there should be NO federal involvement whatsoever...

 
At 8/10/2010 8:13 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"there are also other HR, compliance, and legal costs associated with having employees"...

Exactly Ron H!

My hourly rate at the airlines is $24.00/hour...

Still it costs the airlines nearly $50/hour due to what Fleischer mentions in his opinion piece and what you've brought up...

This editorial cartoon does a good job of explaining the trepidations employers face today...

 
At 8/10/2010 9:23 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Juandos,

We use private industry for the expertise for the standards and the feds for authorization. Any enforcement has to have teeth. I get you don't think it should be their job, and we will adapt to whatver changes they make when and if they make them. Until that time, we expect full compliance.

 
At 8/10/2010 10:04 AM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

"You don’t simply turn off the traffic lights or the water treatment plants and then bid the job out to the low bidder without causing complete chaos." - Walt

Hey Walt, you need to watch Stossel's recent show on planes, trains and automobiles. There are places in Europe where they ARE turning off the traffic lights. What they have found is that there are FEWER accidents and traffic moves faster. People rely on paying attention to other drivers and pedestrians rather than blindly assuming that when the traffic light turns green they can go.

On the water treatment plants: I live about a quarter mile from the water tower in my town, yet I don't have city water. I could get city water run to the house, but the street I live on shares a common artesian well and we all voluntarily pay $10/mo for water and when something breaks, we all kick in to get it fixed. Somehow, it doesn't feel like chaos, much less complete chaos.

 
At 8/10/2010 10:34 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Junkyard_hawg1985,

I ride a motorcyle. People can't seem to get our idea of turned off traffic signals (Four-Way stop signs). It seems the idea of waiting your turn does not work with a lot of people. The worst seem to be the younger kids (you know you are getting old when you complain about kids). I just let them go first even if they just got there. That's a lot better than being their hood ornament.

Community wells work nice when they work, but I doubt Chicago or New York is ready for them. I've serviced some of those. The problem is when the well runs dry with 3 or 4 people on it, only 1 or 2 are willing to split the $10 thousand or so cost. In my experience, most hook up to municipal water if they can (and some are forced to by grandfathered code).

With over 300,000 million people in the U.S., a lot of processes get complicated really quick. I'm not saying others can't take over what the government is doing now, but we aren't there yet. The problem is you need the cooperation of those you are seeking to eliminate, and the economies of scale are often eliminated and start-up costs are too high in the transfer from public to private.

 
At 8/10/2010 4:00 PM, Blogger Junkyard_hawg1985 said...

Walt,

On Stossel's show, they didn't replace the lights with four way stops, they eliminated the traffic lights and you are to negotiate your way through the interchange. Even without direction from government, people seem to manage better than with the government rules (fewer accidents/less wait).

 
At 8/10/2010 6:02 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G.

Check this out.Here's the video from Stossell's show.

You may have to suffer through a commercial.

 
At 8/10/2010 7:42 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Thanks for the link. I can see how that would work at parking lot speeds, but I keep thinking back to the race tracks when I was kid. The Figure 8 tracks were a hoot. Everything worked well and with caution until the speeds increased, and then the wrecks started.

I am not sure how you can flow traffic at any type of speed without one side knowing who will yield ahead of time. The alternative to that is everyone stopping, but I can tell from the way that traffic backs up at the intersection down the road when the lights go out, a full stop backs up traffic even when traffic is light.

With the intelligence they are building into cars with collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control, it is very likely the stop lights will be built into cars in the near future. That is, if we don't have flying cars first or cars that can hover over each other at intersections with no contact.

 
At 8/11/2010 1:40 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I am not sure how you can flow traffic at any type of speed without one side knowing who will yield ahead of time."

That's the beauty of it. Everyone will slow enough to safely enter the intersection. It's fairly easy to tell when it's safe to proceed. Traffic in the video looked pretty orderly. The claim is that traffic flows faster overall with fewer accidents. Notice they didn't say NO accidents, just fewer.

Drivers who refuse to get it, or cooperate with orderly flow won't likely be driving long. Just like restaurant operators who refuse to get it.

 

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